PhD in Temperature determination beneath volcanoes using geophysical-petrological modelling, with a focus on geothermal energy applications

The Geophysics Section at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) invites applications for an exciting 4 year fully funded PhD position in seismology and temperature modelling using joint geophysical-petrological inversion for geothermal energy applications. The position is part of the newly funded MOD3LTHERM project (

Application deadline: April 3rd, 2024


Determining subsurface temperature is critical for our understanding of the geothermal potential of a region and de-risking access to this renewable energy resource. However, directly measuring temperature in boreholes is expensive and often not practical at depth or across large lateral areas. Recent inversion and forward modelling programs have been developed which allow the estimation of sub-surface temperature throughout the crust and mantle, based on multiple geophysical and petrological datasets. This petrological-geophysical coupling is opening up exciting opportunities for characterising the thermal structure of the subsurface. The question remains: how good are these models? Do the outputs accurately characterise subsurface temperature distributions? At the Krafla geothermal region in Iceland, there exist multiple measures of subsurface temperature and a host of other geophysical datasets that can be used to independently estimate sub-surface temperature distributions. This provides a unique opportunity to quantitatively assess the performance of these new petrological-geophysical approaches to temperature estimation, opening up a new field in geothermal exploration.

Through this ground-breaking project, the PhD candidate will develop skills in seismic processing, handling large datasets, joint inversion and interpretation of new data. They will first gather existing models from multiple geophysical (e.g. seismic, gravity, magnetotelluric), petrological and lithological sources in Krafla, Iceland, in order to model the subsurface temperature beneath the Krafla volcanic system. They will use existing software including WINTERC and LitMod3D (Fullea et al., 2021 & 2009, Chambers et al. 2023) to determine 3D subsurface temperature and velocity structure. In addition the MOD3LTHERM team are developing new methodology that accounts for 3D lithological structure by integrating existing software for determining temperature and velocity. The new methodology will enable us to determine the subsurface geothermal potential more accurately in both high and low-enthalpy regions, which is essential for finding and establishing reliable, continuous, green energy resources. The PhD candidate will be the first person to implement this new approach.

The overall goal is to better understand and characterise geothermal systems across multi-scales and provide quantitative estimates to reduce risk in developing geothermal systems.

Main tasks:

  • Integrate data from multiple geophysical (e.g. seismic, gravity, magnetotelluric), lithological (bedrock geology, core logs) and petrological (thermal conductivity, radiogenic heat production) models and sources, for use in a new 3D geophysical-petrological modelling code.
  • Build a 3D model of the Krafla volcanic system using our coupled petrological-geophysical approach, focussing on temperature, velocity and melt.
  • Benchmark the thermal and geophysical models to existing Icelandic models, and compare to low-enthalpy models in Ireland produced using the same methodology.
  • Present results at national and international conferences as well as in peer-reviewed publications.

Additional Information:

  • The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to collect data from a new seismic network in the north of Ireland, which will be used in an Irish model (being produced by the PI) similar to the Icelandic model created as part of the PhD. They will work closely with the IMPROVE EU ITN and early career researchers focussed on Krafla, and benefit from world-leading workshops and training opportunities offered through the ITN. The work will also connect to the Krafla Magma Testbed ( initiative.
  • The PhD will be supervised by Dr Emma Chambers and co-supervised by Prof. Chris Bean.

Duration: The PhD position is fully funded for 4 years

Scholarship: €22,000 tax-free annual stipend, travel budget, laptop and additional research materials, as well as an annual contribution towards fees.

Start Date: As soon as possible

Applicant Requirements:

  • Must have a Masters in one of the following fields: Geosciences, Geophysics, or Physics
  • Solid background in computational methods, signal processing, seismology, thermal mechanics and geology is advantageous
  • Requires the ability to work both independently and with a team of people from diverse backgrounds
  • Evidence of strong oral and scientific English writing proficiency

Application details:

Applicants should submit a PDF copy of (1) their CV and (2) a cover letter including motivation for applying, research interests and experience, and the names and contact of two academic references in one PDF file to the DIAS online recruitment system here. If you have any queries, please contact Dr Emma Chambers at

For full consideration, application materials must be received by April 3rd, 2024. Applications will continue to be accepted after this until the position is filled.

Selected candidates will then be contacted for an online interview.

For further information please contact

At DIAS, we are committed to building an inclusive scientific community, distinguished by scientific excellence, gender balance, and diversity.

posted: 08 March 2024    Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.